Ranking the Original ECW's 10 Greatest Matches
During the short time it was around, ECW gave fans a number of great matches.
The release of the new ECW documentary, Barbed Wire City has everyone reminiscing on everything ECW. The rabid nature of the crowds, the unique stipulations, the passion and the stars specific to that promotion all contributed to ECW being incredibly influential and entertaining.
While it's a company with a reputation for the extreme, for blood and gore in its matches, some of the best matches ECW put on were heavily focused on wrestling. Several classics involved the TV title. Several saw men hurl men through tables with the fans buzzing the entire time.
Ranked on the excitement they produced, how memorable they were and how compelling the story they told was, here are the original ECW's 10 best matches.
10. Hardcore TV 10/18/94 (Taped 9/30): Sabu vs. Cactus Jack
A clash between two masochists saw opponents tests the limits of human endurance.
Both Sabu and Cactus Jack showed their willingness to do anything for a victory and how nearly impossible it was to keep each other down.
Cactus dominated to open, torturing his foe in and out of the ring.
Sabu soon tried to capture the momentum with a moonsault, but instead landed on the guardrail. The impact was nasty. He worked hurt from that point on.
Barely able to stand, Sabu fought on.
He and Cactus fought everywhere, from the crowd, to a stage, to the outside of the ring. Tables and chairs came into play, as one might expect, in this all-out battle.
It took Sabu cracking Cactus over the head with a bottle to finally get one of these men to stay down for a three-count. The match was a ride marked by moments of insanity and stunning resiliency.
9. November to Remember 1995: Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio
Psicosis and Rey Mysterio gave a dazzling display in their Mexican death match. They darted around the ring, tumbled and soared as they wowed the crowd from the opening bell on.
Mysterio and Psicosis spilled into the first row early and soon used everything from the concrete floor to chairs and tables to fight each other.
Mysterio showed an unexpectedly sadistic side, wrapping a chair around his foe's neck.
All the high spots and jaw-dropping action one would expect from a typical lucha match is here—infused with the weapon-heavy action of ECW.
8. Hardcore Heaven 2000: Tajiri vs. Steve Corino
Steve Corino delivered a racist rant before the action began, getting the crowd behind Tajiri.
Buzzing kicks and counters soon led to a brawl on the outside. Tajiri nailed a brainbuster on the runway and then kicked him off it.
The match became bloody early.
Corino wobbled around, loopy. Cornino's manager, Jack Victory tried to even things up, but got a clothesline for his trouble.
Bodies flew through tables. Each man pushed each other to their limits. Corino showed extreme grit as he somehow fought on despite smearing the mat red with his blood.
It was a match filled with bursts of fast-paced action, with escalating drama and a healthy amount of brutality.
After shooting green mist in Victory's face, Tajiri went on to deliver a flying stomp which sent Corino through a table and earned him the win.
7. Living Dangerously 1998: Taz vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Taz and Bam Bam Bigelow had one of the best rivalries in ECW history. Their battles were intense and driven by both men's popularity and power.
This battle for the TV title features some unforgettable moments. It had the most energy and the most excitement of their excellent bouts together.
It began with a fierce standoff and soon turned into a fight that fans couldn't look away from.
Bigelow smashed a table with his fists. Taz suplexed Bigelow off the ramp and over the barricade, a move that left announcer Joey Styles momentarily speechless.
Their hatred reverberated through the arena and through the screen. With chanting and screaming as the backdrop, Taz and Bigelow beat on each other until the infamous end of the match.
Taz hung on Bigelow's back, choking the big man with a submission hold. In desperation, Bigelow slammed himself and Taz on the mat, causing both men to fall through the ring itself.
After that stunning moment, Bigelow dragged out Taz's limp body and pinned him for the win and the title.
Watch the full match here.
6. Cyberslam 1996: 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Sabu
All the jaw-dropping moves you’d expect from these two high-flyers and the desperation of victory escaping them led to one of ECW's best matches ever.
Sabu and 2 Cold Scorpio began by escaping and evading each other's moves. Sabu quickly turned to his suicidal style, diving at Scorpio with little regard for his own body.
As the time ticked down on the TV title match, Scorpio became increasingly frustrated with his inability to pin Sabu.
He brought in steel chairs to amplify his diving moves. He hit a flying leg drop among other big moves, but none of it was enough.
The match was an exercise in survival for both men, fending off the other's attacks, slipping their shoulders out at the last second.
Eventually, time ran out and the match ended without a victor.
5. Barely Legal 1997: Six-Man Tag
From the opening arm drag to the chaos of the ending, Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada and Masato Yakushiji vs. Men's Teoh, Dick Togo and Taka Michinoku (Blue World Order Japan) was a whirlwind of a match.
It didn't matter if fans weren't familiar with the names involved, the action was so enthralling that it was easy to fall in love with the stars involved and the bout itself.
A flurry of action saw high-flying moves, speed and athleticism on display.
BWO Japan was dominant for much of it, their team cohesion being their driving force. They isolated Sasuke and punished him in their corner.
The last third of the match is a dizzying series of counters and guys saving their tag team partners. The momentum of the match is sustained throughout, a pulsating 20 minutes of fun.
4. Heatwave 1998: Masato Tanaka vs. Mike Awesome
Crowd energy, a blend of wrestling and weapons between two of ECW's best rivals equaled a classic match.
Mike Awesome amped up the usual pre-match standoff when he yelled at Masato Tanaka using a non-PG term.
Awesome's athleticism gets the crowd to pop at every big flying move. He was dominant to open, but soon found himself colliding with a chair thanks to Tanaka.
Tanaka charged at him on the ramp, waving the chair above his head like a knight readying a sword.
Dives into the crowd, powerbombs through tables and DDTs onto chairs highlighted the rest of the match. The energy of this match, how Tanaka and Awesome masterfully worked the crowd makes this a bout worthy of watching, several times over.
3. Hostile City Showdown 1995: Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero
Two technicians won over the crowd in the land of the extreme.
Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero fought in a two out of three falls match for the ECW TV title. Those two masters controlled a normally uncontrollable crowd.
Without chairs, tables or flames, they told a story that compelled.
Malenko twisted up Guerrero with creative holds. He worked on Guerrero's knee throughout the match, making him unable to maintain his normal offense.
Guerrero grew frustrated over being unable to pin Malenko. They traded submissions and reversals. They worked seamlessly together.
When the time ran out, the fans clapped, having just seen a work of fantastic theater.
2. Gangsta’s Paradise 1995: The Pitbulls vs. Raven and Stevie Richards
This brutal, unforgettable match encompassed so many of the elements that embodied ECW.
Chaos and carnage was the theme throughout. At first, it seemed that Raven would have to go it alone against both Pitbulls as Stevie Richards wasn't out at ringside.
When Richards finally arrived, he was already dripping blood.
Rivals were chained together and the chains were used as weapons early on. Raven received a chain-laced punch and got choked with it as well.
Powerbombs, tables and bloodshed marked the majority of this match. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't even wrestling for the most part, but there was an engrossing nature to it, sucking the fans in and refusing to let go.
The Pitbulls had to win or else they would be forced to disband.
Those stakes and how over everyone involved was made this special. It's the chaotic ending, though, that elevates this match to classic status.
The Dudleys interfered, as did Tommy Dreamer, Francine and Beulah. Bill Alphonso and Tod Gordon got involved as well. The run-ins and complicated nature of the story may be seen as convoluted, but it gave the match an air of importance. It made it seem that victory or defeat here meant more it did in the standard match.
The insanity of the spots and the finish, make this one of ECW's bests in spite of its flaws.
Note: The video quality is atrocious. A portion of the match is available here in a slightly better version.
1. Hardcore Heaven 1999: Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn
If someone told fans that Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn were each created with the other mind, it'd be hard to argue. Their fantastic chemistry led to a number of great matches for ECW including their bouts at Guilty as Charged 2001 and Living Dangerously 1999.
It's their match at Hardcore Heaven 1999 that is their masterwork, however.
An incredible pace saw Lynn and Van Dam hit move after move, leg drops and avalanche bulldogs and just about everything in each man's arsenal.
The match featured more mat wrestling than one might expect, but plenty of flying as well. Their fight spilled to the outside; their fight hypnotized.
What separates this from their other matches is how much drama they created near the end, how real their desperation felt and how drained it all left fans afterward.